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Consumer Reports: Calif. Assembly has one final chance to Pass the “Public Right to Know Act”

The California State Assembly has until the end of the day tomorrow, August 31, to pass SB 1149 and protect constituents from defective products and environmental hazards

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With just one day left to take action, the California State Assembly should stand up for consumers and immediately pass the “Public Right to Know Act” (SB 1149), Consumer Reports said today after the bill fell short of passage in a vote Monday evening. SB 1149 would protect the public’s right to know the facts about product defects and environmental hazards by prohibiting California courts from concealing them if discovered during the litigation process. This bill is authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and co-sponsored by Consumer Reports and Public Justice.

“Last night, Assemblymembers failed to pass a bill that would prioritize people’s health and safety over the interests of huge corporations. Members have one more chance to right this wrong and stand up for consumers, and they should seize the opportunity,” said Oriene Shin, policy counsel for product safety at Consumer Reports. “Without this law, companies responsible for hazardous products would be able to keep exploiting the court system, hide critical safety information, and keep people in the dark—potentially leading to injuries and deaths. We urge all Assemblymembers to support transparency and safety, and vote aye on SB 1149.”

“It is troubling to see so many Assemblymembers abstain from voting on Monday night,” said David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports. “I believe many of them know supporting SB 1149 is the right thing to do and don’t want to be perceived as supporting corporate secrecy. Senator Leyva and other SB 1149 champions have boldly advocated for the people of California despite immense pressure from CEOs and business lobbyists. Members can still vote in the name of Californians’ safety and support SB 1149.”

For decades, California courts have permitted, with minimal scrutiny, secrecy agreements between the parties in litigation and overly broad protective orders that keep vital health or safety information concealed from the public. However, when a case involves a defective product or environmental hazard, consumers’ lives and well-being can be put at serious risk. The Public Right to Know Act would significantly improve transparency on product hazards while protecting personal privacy and companies’ trade secrets.

California would have joined numerous states that have enacted similar anti-secrecy laws, including Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, and Washington.